Living in space is not just all work and no play. Astronauts like to have fun, too. If you're going to work on the space shuttle for a week or two, it is certainly okay to look out the window, play with your food or tease your crewmates once in awhile. If you're staying on the International Space Station for a few months, fun is an essential ingredient to the quality of life.
Astronauts need a break from their busy schedules when they are orbiting Earth. Days or even months of straight work is certain to cause stress among space workers.
Space Station Fun
That is why flight planners on Earth schedule time during each day so astronauts can relax, exercise and have some fun. Shuttle and station crewmembers even manage to have fun while working. Experiments in space sometimes involve ordinary toys and how microgravity affects them.
A popular pastime while orbiting the Earth is simply looking out the window. Astronauts onboard the space shuttle can look out the cockpit windows and watch the Earth below or the deep blackness of space. Inside the International Space Station, crewmembers have numerous windows they can look out. Astronauts often comment on their fascination and awe as they look at the Earth spin beneath them with its multiple shades and textures. Sunsets and sunrises are also very spectacular, occurring every 45 minutes above the Earth's atmosphere.
Onboard the space station, crewmembers have many opportunities to relax and play. Like most people who work full time, they get weekends off. On any given day, crewmembers can watch movies, read books, play cards and talk to their families. They have an exercise bike, a treadmill and various other equipment to help keep their bodies in shape. During their off time, they certainly take time out to play games and generally have a good time.
The shuttle's payload bay has no basketball hoops or any other sports equipment. Instead, it is mostly used to carry equipment to space. You would also need a space suit to go outside and if you threw the basketball too hard it might fly out of the payload bay and become a satellite itself!
Inside the space shuttle there is not a lot of space and with crews of up to seven it can get crowded. So exercise is a way to work out and stretch your muscles and bones. Inside the space station, however, there is much more room to 'run around', do back flips and exercises too.
Only if you are the pilot!
The shuttle commander and pilot use a flight simulator on one of the laptop computers that is very similar to a video game. They use the simulator to practice landing the shuttle. This helps them maintain their flying skills even after spending two weeks in space.
You got it!
A popular activity onboard the space station, for both shuttle and station crews, is racing from one end of the International Space Station to the other end. Actually, the crew members don't race each other, though, since the openings between modules are too small.